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White House meets with UnitedHealth CEO regarding hack

The corporate emblem of the UnitedHealth Group shows on the exterior of one of their office buildings in Santa Ana, California, U.S., April 13, 2020

March 12 (mod1s) - White House officials met with UnitedHealth Group (UNH.N), opens new tab CEO Andrew Witty and others in the sector on Tuesday to address a cyberattack at the healthcare conglomerate's IT business that has affected operations throughout the United States. 

The conference was the first to bring together providers such as hospitals and payers such as health insurance, said a representative from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adding that daily individual discussions had been conducted with all affected parties since the incident.

UnitedHealth did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment. 

Health insurance companies are trying to help providers by allowing them to begin filing claims and getting payments after the hack, America's Health Insurance companies (AHIP), an industry body representing insurers, said on Tuesday. 

Health plans have also put alternate payment methods in place, according to AHIP CEO Mike Tuffin.

The assault on UnitedHealth's IT company Change Healthcare late last month, conducted by hackers who described themselves as the "Blackcat" ransomware organization, has had a knock-on impact on participants throughout the U.S. healthcare industry. 

The unit functions as a financial clearing house for pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs). PBMs assist companies and health plans compile lists of pharmaceuticals covered by insurance plans and pay pharmacies for patients' prescriptions.

Change Healthcare handles over 50% of medical claims in the U.S. for about 900,000 doctors, 33,000 pharmacies, 5,500 hospitals and 600 labs. 

Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and HHS in an open letter on Sunday had encouraged UnitedHealth to accelerate payments to healthcare providers. 

The Washington Post originally reported that White House officials asked UnitedHealth to make extra emergency cash available to healthcare providers harmed by the attack.


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